WASHINGTON — A former leader of a U.S. ally is speaking out about being held at Dulles International Airport Tuesday after a recent trip to Iran.
Kjell Magne Bondevik is the former prime minister of Norway, having served from 1997 to 2000 and again from 2001 to 2005.
He told WJLA-TV he flew into Dulles Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton, but was held at the airport for an hour because his 2014 trip to Iran had been noted in his passport.
He is currently the president of a human rights organization and went to Iran to speak at a human rights conference there.
“I was surprised and I was provoked,” Bondevik told the television station.
“Of course, I understand the fear of letting terrorists come,” but the former prime minister said he should not have had that label placed on him.
He said his former job was listed in his passport.
Bondevik said he was told that his problem was tied to a 2015 law signed by President Barack Obama after terror attacks in California and France, not the recent temporary travel ban instituted by President Donald Trump.
The 2015 law requires anyone who has been in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 2011 — the same countries included in Trump’s temporary ban — to get a visa before he can enter the United States. That includes the 38 countries that do not need a visa to visit the United States, among which Norway is one.
Exceptions are occasionally granted on a case-by-case basis.
Bondevik said he was forced to wait in a room with travelers from the Middle East and Africa who also faced more questioning for about 40 minutes. His interview with security lasted about 20 minutes. WJLA says an hour wait is generally typical for those subject to extra scrutiny.
“They should understand that I don’t represent any problem,” said Bondevik.
He wondered after his experience how other current and former world leaders would be treated in the current travel environment.
“So what reputation do you want to make of the U.S. abroad?”
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